OOO’s abandon of speculation about the real: On self-validating meta-assemblages

Imagine a contemporary philosophy whose theses are totally counter-intuitive, verging on the ridiculous. How can one make it seem tenable? One method is to avoid considering whether its theses are true, and to engage principally in meta-discussions. One does not examine  the lineaments of the world it projects, and instead immerses it in a series of bookish comparisons with philosophical positions that are related to it historically and/or formally.

Harman’s OOO is just such a philosophy. It denies the reality of every single aspect of our experience, including time. Yet Harman accuses other philosophies of losing sight of the concrete world of objects, and of being incapable of explaining change. The most frequent response has been to welcome Harman’s contribution and to discourse learnedly about the “great promise” of OOO if only it could be freed of its residual Platonism. One writes five or ten or fifty pages on the “problem of temporal relations” in Harman’s OOO, comparing his view to that of Heidegger, Whitehad and Latour, and thus giving a sort of “meta-credence” not just to an impossible series of unsupported and wildly implausible theses, but also to one’s own scholarly competence.

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2 Responses to OOO’s abandon of speculation about the real: On self-validating meta-assemblages

  1. Marc says:

    “Crazyism about X is the view that something that it would be crazy to believe must be among the core truths about X.” The paper is dealing with philosophy of mind, but it seems a propos in this case. Link:


  2. terenceblake says:

    I am in favour of crazyism and believe that without crazyism there would be no progress. Crazyism is what Feyerabend discusses under the name of “counter-induction”, arguing that it is a key methodological procedure in the conduct of science. He demonstrates that many important figures in the history of science, including Galileo and Einstein made use of crazyist or counter-inductive hypotheses, and had to do so in order to open up implicit common sense assumptions to critique and modification. However, he emphasised that crazyist manoeuvres were to be used in view of increasing testability and of improving our knowledge of the real. Crazyism for its own sake, crazyism that leads to hypotheses being protected from all criticism, crazyism that misrepresents itself as its opposite, as “naiveté” (see the beginning of Harman’s THE FOURFOLD OBJECT) are to be excluded as increasing the already considerable burden of dogmatism and immobilism in the world.

    I object here in this post to the immunising procedure of discussing OOO at the meta-level by comparing it to other more or less similar hypotheses forming an array. Not only does this serve to defuse criticism, but it also dilutes our apprehension of the theory’s craziness, as it seems to be just one variation of an extended array of more or less equally tenable positions. This comparatist meta-assemblage commentary “de-crazifies” the conjecture, and reinforces its subtraction from all tests, even conceptual ones.

    Thanks a lot for the reference, it looks very interesting.


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